As part of the necessary atmosphere of ‘change’ in Nigeria, politicians have in the past few months called on Nigerians to be prudent as a result of the financial crunch brought about by plummeting oil price, but doesn’t seem like they believe that prudence should apply to them.
Nigeria has a way of making you doubt if you actually know the meaning of some seemingly simple words and terms, which you have heard all your life. One of such words is ‘change’. In the last few months, I have almost been forced to scurry back to my dictionaries and make a reassessment of my understanding of that word anytime I hear a Nigerian politician say it.
Such is the change that Nigeria’s ‘change government’ has brought to the word ‘change’ itself. It is no longer the “act or process by which something becomes different” but “an act or process by which something becomes different in name but not in character.”
Where am I going with all these? Well, the N4.8bn for the Aso Rock clinic and website issue, of course.
Does Mr. President actually believes there is any extraordinary never-heard-before way he or his people will justify a budget of N4bn for a clinic other former Presidents had also equipped in the past, along with an N800m website that will do what exactly? Maybe have the capability of dispensing groceries on the spot?
Mr. President is probably standing in the front of a mirror and saying to himself: “I lead of bunch of hoodwinked baboons.”
Let’s put it in perspective. In 2014, the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise announced a plan to construct three airports at the cost of $64.5m. None of the three airports cost more than $25m! That may not be the best airport in the world. But that is a country that seeks to achieve more with little in the face of limited resources.
Hawassa Airport, Ethiopia – $23m
Tosin Adeyanju has been a domestic slave all her life
Tosin Adeyanju rocked the six-month-old baby she was carrying gently to keep the child quiet. As the girl spoke, with a voice that belied the suffering and agony she had endured since she was a child, she looked around in fear.
“Please, help me, I don’t want to go back to that woman. She would take my child away from me and sell me again,” she said. For many days, before that encounter, Tosin had slept on street corners in Mushin area of Lagos – Nigeria’s biggest commercial city – with her baby before a woman, who had known her since she was a child, took her in temporarily.
According to the International Labour Organisation, an estimated 15 million Nigerian children under the age of 14 are trapped in exploitative servitude. Tosin was one of them.
Read her story in the first part of my series on child slavery in Nigeria: The Invisible Children: Agony of child slaves raped, abused by their bosses (Part I)
A herbalist at work on one of his patients. Photo: Kunle Falayi
My visit to traditional healers of mental illnesses in Nigeria was really eye-opening. The extent of overhaul needed in Nigeria’s mental health system is simply staggering. I will say the investigation was really eye-opening for me. The fun part was hanging out with those herbalists. Lol
Read here: One psychiatrist, a million patients: Traditional healers take charge of mental cases in Nigeria (II)
Gloria and her baby
16-year-old Gloria (not real name) told me she was 9 when her brother’s friend offered to take her in as a domestic help to ease the financial burden of her family. She alleged that the man, a 33-year-old trader in Lagos, started to abuse her sexually almost on daily basis two years after. She got pregnant and gave birth to a boy six months ago. Read all about it here: ‘Uncle’ raped me for four years – 16-yr-old house help impregnated by master
Child sexual abuse has become more common than you might imagine in Nigeria. It is disheartening though, that the authorities are simply taking a nap on this horrible trend. Unfortunately, families of victims contribute to the problem. But can we really blame them totally in a society where the law enforcement agents does not take these such cases seriously? For instance, hours after I spoke with this girl’s family, they begged me not to publish this story because the family of the suspect has been pleading with them.
The annoying part of the story was when I spoke with the suspect and he told me the girl was possessed and actually seduced him.
Dupe at the traditional orthopaedic hospital where she was given treatment
This woman passed on in excruciating pain two days after I interviewed her (Tell my husband to return my baby –Woman run over with bus by police husband). Her story underscores the pathetic life of victims of domestic abuse in Nigeria.
Her story makes me just really sad because apart from the fact that the assault on her was totally unavoidable, the ignorance of her family probably worsened her case. They took her to a traditional doctor than an actual orthopaedic hospital.
I still remember the terrible heat and smell emanating from her room at the time of the interview. It is really unfortunate that a lot of people still prefer traditional treatment to actual orthodox hospitals in this part of the world.
May she rest in peace and her husband rot in hell.